Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.
In today's edition:
- Aid Group `Wants to Stay' in Afghanistan Despite Killings
- Christians Called to Pray for Muslims during Ramadan
- Church Council Organizes 'Black Day' for Dalit Christians
- Hundreds Injure Church Members in Bekasi, Indonesia
Aid Group `Wants to Stay' in Afghanistan Despite Killings
Religion News Service reports the International Assistance Mission has rejected Taliban claims that 10 staffers from the Christian aid agency who were killed in Afghanistan had been trying to convert Muslims. "Our faith motivates and inspires us, but we do not proselytize. We abide by the laws of Afghanistan," Dirk R. Frans, IAM's executive secretary, said in a statement at a Monday (Aug. 9) press conference in Kabul. The 10 workers -- six Americans, a Briton, a German and two local Afghan staff -- were killed on Aug. 5 as they returned from a trek through the Hindu Kush mountains, where they had been providing eye care to poor and remote communities, Frans said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the workers had been spying and trying to convert Muslims. Frans, however, said his group had been present in Afghanistan since 1966 and abided by the laws of the country, and had pledged that its aid would never be used to advance a particular political or religious standpoint. "IAM would not be invited back to villages if we were using aid as a cover for preaching," said Frans.
Christians Called to Pray for Muslims during Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar during which Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Dates for Ramadan 2010 are August 11th through September 9th, and many Christian groups are calling for Christians to remember to pray for Muslims during this holiest month on the Islamic calendar. PersecutionBlog.com, run by Voice of the Martyrs, encourages Christians to "please begin to pray for the Muslim world as they begin their fasting and pray that the Lord Jesus would continue to draw Muslims to Himself, as He has been doing in these last days." Violent demonstrations against Christians commonly increase during Ramadan. "During this time of spiritual severity, however, many have miraculous visions of Jesus and put their trust in Him," says Carl Moeller the President of Open Doors USA. "This is why it is so urgent for Christians to be united in prayer throughout Ramadan." To equip Christians to pray for Muslims, Open Doors USA is offering the Ramadan Prayer Calendar. The calendar has multiple prayers points so Christians can pray for Muslims around the world during the 30 days.
Church Council Organizes 'Black Day' for Dalit Christians
A church council fighting for the rights of Dalit Christians in India has called on churches and Christian organizations to observe Aug. 10 as "Black Day." The Christian Post reports the National Council for Dalit Christians (NCDC) says a Black Day should be observed by the Church on account of discrimination suffered by Dalit Christians on the basis of a presidential order issued six decades ago. It was on Aug. 10, 1950, that the Scheduled Castes Order was added to the Constitution of India, effectively preventing "low-caste" non-Hindus from enjoying the economic and educational benefits authorized by the government for the Scheduled Caste people. Organizers hope that the observance of Black Day on Aug. 10 "will be a step toward conscientizing our own Christian communities on this concern and to urge the Government to pay heed to the just demand of deleting para 3 of the 1950 Order." Efforts to change the law have made little progress, observers say, because legal officials continue to justify the exclusion of Christian Dalits from the reservation quotas on the grounds that the caste system was only part of the Hindu religion and therefore only applied to members of that faith.
Hundreds Injure Church Members in Bekasi, Indonesia
Leaders of a church in West Java, Indonesia demanded justice from police after a fifth attack from Muslim protestors left at least a dozen people injured yesterday. As some 20 members of the Batak Christian Protestant Filadelfia Church (HKBP Filadelfia) in Bekasi gathered for Sunday worship on a church-owned plot of land in Ciketing, at least 300 members of the Islamic People's Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) broke through a police barricade and ordered them to leave, Theophilus Bela, president of the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum, told Compass Direct News. When the church members refused, the protestors assaulted the group with sticks, stones or their bare hands. A report in The Jakarta Post reported that as many as 700 protestors took part in the attack on the congregation, which numbers 1,500 in total. When church members decided to leave, the mob "hunted us down and hit us," church leader Hendrik Siagian told local news magazine Tempo. Several church members required medical attention, Bela said.